Strange intermittent no crank/no start issue - TCCoA Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-21-2018, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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Strange intermittent no crank/no start issue

Hi all,

Let me start by mentioning I did do quite a bit of searching both in these forums as well as various Google searches and am still scratching my head. I have a 96 Thunderbird LX that I bought for $500 as a daily driver/project about a year and a half ago. Been working on it as I can here and there. I'm having an issue where the car doesn't start or even crank after sitting for a few hours. But...I can kind of trick it into starting sometimes. Here's a quick timeline of related repairs that led up to now (not including brakes etc)...

- New fuel filter put in by a mechanic last summer (his is when the issue started happening intermittently, but not often).
- Alternator replaced with used part last October, been working well.
- Starter replaced with used one last month once it refused to start even after banging on the starter and trying to jump start it. Seemed to be working well for a few weeks, then the issue started again.

I borrowed a pretty good OBD-II scanner to see what I can find out. When I could get it running, I found that my O2 sensors are showing I'm running way lean. LTFT is around 25%, STFT varies under 10%. I know B2S2 is disconnected due to a broken wire which I will replace soon. I'm thinking it wouldn't hurt replacing all 4 since I'm getting codes that show both banks are lean and the heater circuit is bad, I smell gas pretty strong, and my mileage sucks bad.

Here's where it gets weird. I ran the KOEO test from the scanner to see what it would find. When I realized it was turning things off and on, I decided to try cranking it. Somehow when it hits the second or third thing that it checks, it cranked and started up! So I found a workaround to get it running, or so I thought. It stopped working a few days ago. Battery voltage seemed low so I tried doing it while jumping it, it worked again! Figured the battery was bad since it's pretty old. Bought a new battery last night, but it's not doing a damn thing.

Now I'm stumped. I've tried finding out exactly what the sequence of the KOEO test is to narrow down the issue but am having no luck. Tried swapping the relay in the power distribution box but it made no difference. I'm desperate for ideas. I unfortunately don't have a lot of free time having 3 kiddos and funds are limited so it hasn't been easy. What could prevent it from cranking? I almost think it has to do with a broken wire somewhere in the circuit that is some how triggered or tricked by the scanner. I have an ok knowledge of cars but am by no means a mechanic. It doesn't appear the O2 sensors would keep it from cranking from what I understand. I would have ripped my hair out by now if I didn't regularly shave my head!

ANY pointers at all would be super appreciated. Sorry for the long post, but I know when it comes to troubleshooting more info is better than less. Thanks in advance!!

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-22-2018, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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Just realized imade a mistake in that post. The fuel PUMP was replaced by a mechanic, not the filter. Makes a bit of a difference!

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-22-2018, 11:09 AM
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Usually, the filter is replaced when the pump is replaced. A clogged filter can burn out a pump.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-22-2018, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I'm almost positive the filter was replaced too. I wanted to mention the pump was replaced too though to potentially rule it out as an issue, or point it out as part of the problem since it started happening around then.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-23-2018, 10:57 AM
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Here's another thing to check ... the ignition switch itself.

When they start spreading out and failing, you'll get all KINDS of weird intermittent failures going on.

RwP
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-23-2018, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! I'll check those things out too. I also heard that the neutral safety switch could cause the problem too. I'm going to try to check that as well. What still has me scratching my head is that somehow that Key On Engine Off test I ran from the scanner allowed the starter to crank about 2-3 seconds from when the test starts. It's almost like it woke something up which let the circuit complete. I would love to find out exactly what that scan tests for, that could make diagnosing the issue so much easier!

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-23-2018, 06:46 PM
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Shawn,

Not sure if you saw this thread. Chris is running into a similar situation and he thinks it's pointing to a bad PCM.

More food for thought!

Joe

It's not a 97 Sport, it just looks like one!

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-23-2018, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodeo Joe View Post
Shawn,

Not sure if you saw this thread. Chris is running into a similar situation and he thinks it's pointing to a bad PCM.

More food for thought!

Joe
He has something going on with the ignition primary circuit no crank/no start, ignition switch, battery, ground, starter, charging system harness, etc...

For what it's worth I have excessive crank/no start. Lots of cranking, just no starting. with verified no coil signal or injector pulse during crank which after diagnosing everything else including lab scoping the cam/crank signal... has led me to PCM.... when cold.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-24-2018, 04:29 AM
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Thanks Chris for clearing that up. I thought you were getting a no crank/ no start situation at times also.

Moving on!

Joe

It's not a 97 Sport, it just looks like one!

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-26-2018, 06:17 PM
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Two issues I found on my 93 Bird with the same symptoms: the ignition module, which was subject to a recall in the day, and the MAF. Get it running with a new ignition module [I used an Accel] then change the MAF. A Cardone rebuild will work but will need a few hundred miles for the computer to get used to it. I also added an Accel coil and a high-grade distributor cap with brass inserts. Starts every time and runs like a new car.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2018, 05:18 PM
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Crankshaft Position Sensor

I had a similar problem several years ago and it turned out to be a faulty crankshaft position sensor.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2018, 08:44 PM
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Two issues I found on my 93 Bird with the same symptoms: the ignition module, which was subject to a recall in the day, and the MAF. Get it running with a new ignition module [I used an Accel] then change the MAF. A Cardone rebuild will work but will need a few hundred miles for the computer to get used to it. I also added an Accel coil and a high-grade distributor cap with brass inserts. Starts every time and runs like a new car.
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I had a similar problem several years ago and it turned out to be a faulty crankshaft position sensor.
Both of those would cause a no start condition, but not a no crank condition.

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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2018, 09:50 PM
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Both of those would cause a no start condition, but not a no crank condition.


In my case, it resulted in a no crank condition, since the starter wouldn't turn if the CPS was not detected.


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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-27-2018, 10:03 PM
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The crankshaft position sensor isn't a part of the circuit triggering the starter solenoid.

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-29-2018, 12:53 PM
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Welcome to the MN12 community, Shawn.

Sometimes mine won't turn over but you can hear the hum of the fuel pump running in the background.

Mine started doing this a few years ago and it turned out the starter solenoid was sticking. It does it most when the weather is warm and wet. It is also random and intermittent.

The starter solenoid is a round cylinder that is underneath the starter on the right side of the car and has a thick red wire going to it.

6 to 10 firm, but not excessively strong raps with a hammer will free the starter solenoid up so it can engage the crankshaft gear and turn the motor over.

I keep a normal size hammer with round rubber tips on both sides in my trunk to tap the solenoid when this happens to mine. I also keep a piece of cardboard in the car to lay on so I won't get dirty or soaked when it's raining.

The solenoid is fastened to the starter with a star-headed screw. The head is so shallow that I stripped it out and I haven't had the time to drop the exhaust to get the starter off so it can be replaced.

These cars are so hold that it's not uncommon to have multiple problems going on at once.

If you just turn the ignition on, but not to the point of turning the motor over, you will notice that check engine light (at least on mine) will flicker when the fuel pump primes the line with enough fuel to start the engine.

My fuel pump also needs replacing because it is worn and can't keep the fuel line primed enough to start after it's been sitting a while, particularly when it's cold outside.

Turn the wheels slightly to to left, locate the starter solenoid, and keep hammer in the trunk to tap the solenoid the next time the engine won't turn over. You will know the solenoid is bad if the engine turns over right away after you tap the solenoid.

The next time it will turn over, but won't start, turn the ignition on and listen for the fuel pump to prime the line and then shut off. If it takes a while to shut off or never does, then maybe the fuel pump is the culprit.

Use a tool, don't be one...

-Mark

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